For the second straight evening, strong pitching performances take center stage. Kenta Maeda only needed 85 pitches to complete 6.2 shutout innings and did get removed with a two run lead, to the dismay of the home crowd. However, his night proves pretty memorable:

Maeda notched his fifth win scattering three hits. He generated 22 swinging strikes, 14 with his slider, and 17 called for a robust 45.9 CSW (Called plus swinging strikes) percentage leading all starting pitchers on Thursday.

Domingo Germán leads the majors becoming the first pitcher to reach eight wins. German won Game 2 of the doubleheader with Baltimore and worked seven innings giving up six hits, an earned run and a walk with eight strikeouts. He produced 14 swinging strikes and 18 called for a 37.6 CSW percentage.

Keeping pace with German, Justin Verlander won his seventh decision yielding two hits, one earned run and two walks with nine strikeouts in Detroit. Verlander racked up 23 swinging strikes along with 18 called of his 101 pitches for a 40.6 CSW percentage as the Astros continue to streak.

Here’s the other notable starting pitcher performances from Thursday:

  • Zack Greinke , Arizona: 91 pitches, five swinging strikes, 23 called, 30.8 CSW%. Greinke did leave early with abdominal tightness, so monitor his status in a couple of days. He gets his sixth win tossing 7.2 shutout innings allowing four hits and striking out five.

  • Shaun Anderson , San Francisco: 96 pitches, nine swinging strikes, 20 called, 30.2 CSW%. Anderson’s debut went well in a no-decision. He worked five innings yielding two hits, three runs (two earned) and three walks with five strikeouts.

  • Yu Darvish , Chicago Cubs: 102 pitches, 11 swinging strikes, 26 called, 36.3 CSW%. Surging to 11 strikeouts, Darvish ended up with a no-decision due to a leaky bullpen. Over 5.1 innings, Darvish gave up five hits and two earned runs.

  • Patrick Corbin : 108 pitches, 18 swinging strikes, 12 called, 27.8 CSW%. Corbin nets his fourth win lasting eight innings allowing four hits, an earned run and a walk with 11 strikeouts.

  • Mike Soroka , Atlanta: 93 pitches, six swinging strikes, 15 called, 22.6 CSW%. Although Soroka did not produce eye popping strikeout numbers, he limited the Cardinals to three hits and three walks with three strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Soroka’s ERA dropped to 0.98 en route to his fourth win and he’s recorded six straight starts allowing one earned run or fewer.

Hitter Highlights: Austin Riley homers in debut

In a perfect segue, the young Braves showed well on Thursday. In only his second at-bat of his first game, Austin Riley showed his power upside:

Ronald Acuña Jr. remained the lead-off spot and stole two bases as well in the win. Through 72 games hitting first, Acuna’s scored 57 runs with 20 home runs, 47 RBI, 16 stolen bases, a .323/.402/.617 slash line and a .294 isolated power.

Gleyber Torres launched three home runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Orioles. He entered Game 1 with only one home run in his previous 22 games. However, Torres has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games with a .338 average scoring eight runs with six doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI and two stolen bases. New York announced Miguel Andújar will undergo shoulder surgery which will require four-to-six months of recovery. In redraft leagues, Andujar can be dropped.

Minnesota stayed hot and held on for a one run win. Byron Buxton hit his second home run of the season and he’s hitting .471/.520/.824 during his modest five game hit streak. Jason Castro added his sixth home run and will take over the majority of catching reps with Mitch Garver sidelined.

Streaking Tommy La Stella racked up four hits including his 11th home run. He’s hit more home runs through his first 38 games this year than his previous five seasons combined. La Stella’s hit eight of his home runs off of fastballs this year and now has 25 RBI over his last 29 games.

While newly promoted speedsters will command high FAAB bids this weekend, Jarrod Dyson went 2-for-4 with three runs, two RBI and two more stolen bases on Thursday. Dyson’s stolen four over his last two starts and he’s up to 11 this year and he’s reached base safely in 19 of his last 21 starts. Teammate Eduardo Escobar ’s also heating up. He hit his ninth home run and drove in three. Over his last 35 games, Escobar’s 44-for-131 (.336) with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 25 RBI raising his average from .121 to .293 in the process.

Rounding into form from his slow start, Eugenio Suárez went 3-for-5 with a run, double, his 13th home run and three RBI. His last 11 games yields a .362 average, five doubles, six home runs and 13 RBI.

Interested in learning a new nickname? We found out one when Michael Chavis delivered the game winning hit in Boston:

J.D. Martinez also hit his fourth home run in his last three games raising his season total to nine with three RBI in the Red Sox win over the Rockies.

Do not forget about the post-hype players in free agent bids or waivers this weekend. Willie Calhoun homered in his first at-bat with the Rangers. During 32 games in Triple-A, Calhoun hit eight home runs with 22 RBI, a .304/.416/.557 slash and walked 22 times against 19 strikeouts.

Not only did Adalberto Mondesi go three-for-three in a loss, but he stole two more bases to retake the major league lead with 15 this year. As of this writing, Mondesi’s currently on pace for 132 RBI and 57 stolen bases. Holy moly.

Two injury situations to monitor. Trevor Story left the game after a collision in the outfield. Early reports suggests it’s only a bone bruise and Story hopes to play on Friday. Also, Brendan Rodgers could be promoted prior to the team arriving in Philadelphia. Arizona’s David Peralta also left his game early with a right trapezius strain. He’s considered day-to-day, like all of us.

Bullpen Notes: Luke Jackson rides again

Trying to preserve a win for Soroka, the Braves summoned Luke Jackson for a two inning save for his second straight appearance. He entered with two runners on and no outs but induced a double play groundout to Josh Donaldson . Jackson notched his fifth save with three strikeouts and seems to be the only arm to trust in this bullpen.

Aroldis Chapman recorded a save in each game of the Yankees doubleheader working two innings allowing a hit with four strikeouts. Chapman raised his save total to 11 and he’s the first Yankees reliever to save two in a day since Rafael Soriano in 2012.

Trying to predict how the Twins will use their bullpen proves frustrating. After Trevor Hildenberger created a mess in the ninth, Mike Morin recorded his first save despite letting an inherited runner to score. Blake Parker retired the only hitter he faced in the eighth via strikeout and did not return for the ninth with the Twins up by four. Diego Castillo gets his fifth save in Miami, Kenley Jansen his 14th against the Padres and Will Smith struck out the side for his 11th save.

What To Watch For

In a short split slate of games, the Mets will try to win the series in Washington with Zack Wheeler on the mound opposing Aníbal Sánchez .

Chris Bassitt will try to build on his strong start to the season in Detroit and faces under the radar Spencer Turnbull .

What can wake up the Indians offense? Well, for starters, the Orioles pitching arrives for a four-game set. No better time than the present.

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Statistical Credits: - Game Notes